For the Health and Safety of the community and to ensure continued service, the Tulalip Pharmacy will start “white gloves” service. The doors will be closed and a staff member will be stationed at the door, that staff member will bring in your prescription, then deliver meds to the patients’ car. No one will be allowed to wait in the pharmacy.
Dear Tulalip Clinical Pharmacy customers: Several patients expressed concerns about medication shortage due to supply chain issue in China (China supplies a significant amount of drug ingredients to the world). I want to assure you that we are currently very well stocked on most medications. It’s our standard operating practice to overstock pharmacy at the beginning of the year , partly to take advantage of volume discount and partly to protect us from situation like this. I have no doubt we will be able to provide uninterrupted pharmacy service beyond this challenging situation.
To reduce the chance of COVID-19 transmission at the pharmacy and to ensure safety for everyone, we have implemented the following precautionary measures:
Clean and sanitize all work surface at least once an hour
Staff will wear masks and gloves during work hours until further notice
Staff in different departments will communicate primarily via phone, Skype and email.
Sick patients are encouraged to wear masks inside pharmacy
Fill 90-days supply of maintenance medications whenever possible.
Delivery driver will check on elders to ensure they have all necessary supplies and report any issues immediately to pharmacy management and elder care program.
What you can do to help:
Wear masks at the pharmacy if you are sick (coughing, sneezing, or having a fever)
Consider ordering 90-days supply of your maintenance medications. please do keep in mind our bigger workload as more patients want 90-days supply of their medications.
Arrange pick up for elders so they don’t have to worry about getting out.
For Medbox patients, we assure you your delivery will be on time every month just as they have always been for the last six years because on-time delivery is one of our highest priority and we do have plenty of your maintenance medications in stock right now.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me or my staff if you have any concerns. We will do our very best to accommodate your prescriptions needs.
With health officials now reporting 19 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Snohomish County, the Tulalip Tribes is working to ensure the health and safety of its elders. Since elders are identified as some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19, extra precautions are being taken within the Tulalip community.
According to Rochelle Lubbers, Chief Administrative Officer of Tulalip Tribal Government Operations, as of Friday, March 6, the Katherine “Molly” Hatch Senior Center has temporarily closed its doors until tribal officials gain more information about the spreading virus. Bingo sessions, elder commission meetings and other gathering events have been canceled.
The Tribe considers those to be over 62 years-of-age an elder, and will be delivering soap, paper towels, hand sanitizers and information about the virus to all tribal member elders on the reservation. Following that, deliveries will be made to seniors over 55 years of age.
Elders are advised to stay in their houses to limit the exposure to a possible outbreak. If an elder is part of your household, buy supplies and help with errands if you can. Also be sure to call and check in on elders you know may need help. And most importantly, wash your hands regularly with an alcohol-based hand rub or with soap and water, and avoid touching your face.
If an elder has an illness, contact their doctor. If they are experiencing life-threatening symptoms call 911. For more information about COVID-19, contact the Snohomish County Health District hotline at 1-800-525-0127.
Elders are encouraged to tune in to Tulalip TV, Channel 3/503 (HD) for video updates from Tribal leaders about COVID-19. Tulalip TV can also be accessed at TulalipTV.com, the TulalipTV App, available from the Apple App Store/Google Play Store, and Roku and FireTV, Tulalip TV channels.
Please continue to check in with Tulalip News, at tulalipnews.com and Tulalip News Facebook and subscribe to emails for the most current information. You can also subscribe to the text alert line (text STORM to 30644), to receive updates and alerts.
With so much information about the novel coronavirus, it’s challenging to decide what is accurate and useful. The Tulalip Emergency Management Department, in collaboration with the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic and Snohomish County Public Health District, is committed to updating you about the virus regularly. We will plan to release our updates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, as well as when new information becomes available. For the latest accurate information, we encourage people to visit the following websites: CDC (Center for Disease Control) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html, Snohomish County Health District https://www.snohd.org/, or the Department of Health https://www.doh.wa.gov/.
The following questions have come up in the last few days. Please let us know if you have additional questions you’d like us to answer—email questions and concerns to Ashlynn Danielson, Emergency Management, email@example.com.
Q: How do I know if it is COVID-19 or the flu?
A: COVID-19 and the flu have very similar symptoms. The COVID-19 includes cough and fever, particularly a fever that goes away and returns. Most people can overcome COVID-19 without medical intervention. If you suspect you have the COVID-19, please contact your regular medical provider via phone. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, please call 911.
Q: What can I do to stay safe?
A: Wash hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water. Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throwing the tissue in the trash and washing your hands. If you develop symptoms, reduce the stress on the healthcare system and your risk of exposure by staying home and calling the doctor. Make it a habit to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. It is easy to transfer germs from surfaces to your body when you touch your face.
Q: Are there any COVID-19 cases at Tulalip?
A: There are likely possible positive cases that have been identified at Tulalip. A possible positive case is a patient who exhibits the signs and symptoms and is presumed to have the disease. These patients are then tested if they show moderate to severe symptoms. Testing capabilities are limited, and patients with mild symptoms are generally not checked to protect the supplies for the most critical patients. The Emergency Management Team, in collaboration with Community Health, local Tulalip Bay Fire District 15 and Marysville Fire Department, and Tulalip Police Department, have a plan in place to track presumptive positive cases to keep our public informed and reduce the spread of the disease. Presumptive positive is a term which means that while local testing has produced a positive result for COVID-19, the sample is still awaiting confirmation from the CDC.
Q: Does handwashing work better than hand sanitizer?
A: Soap and water are better than hand sanitizers at removing specific kinds of germs, especially on dirty hands. However, for people who have mobility issues or lack of access to clean running water, hand sanitizer is useful in a pinch.
Q: How do I decide whether to stay home from work, go to a clinic, or go to the hospital?
A: If you have a fever and cough, as well as any flu-like symptoms, please call your regular health care provider. They will do a phone triage, or a series of questions to determine if it is likely that you have contracted COVID-19. Based on your doctor’s recommendation, you should self-isolate and limit your exposure to others, visit a healthcare facility, or, if you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms including shortness of breath or chest pain, call 911.
Q: I need to be seen, but my doctor told me to stay home. Why are they treating me like this?
A: Your doctor may ask you to self-isolate, or stay home and limit your exposure to others, to protect you and the people around you. In many cases, patients are putting themselves at risk for contracting the disease by going to a medical facility when they do not need to. In other cases, you may risk infecting others. Lastly, in situations like this, health care facilities can become overwhelmed with minor illnesses, which reduces their ability to take care of those patients who do experience life-threatening symptoms from the disease.
Q: What is Tribal Government doing?
A: Tribal Government administration has briefed managers about the situation and is encouraging staff to be diligent about sanitizing high-touch areas, including keyboards, doorknobs, and handrails. Tribal government is encouraging staff who have COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work for at least seven days and/or 72 hours after symptoms resolve, whichever is longer. The Pharmacy will be holding a seasonal influenza clinic at the Administration building to provide staff with a seasonal flu vaccine. This is a protective measure. This vaccine does not protect against COVID-19. When a person contracts seasonal influenza, it can raise their risk of contracting COVID-19, so flu vaccines are being recommended. Some policies are being temporarily relaxed to allow employees to take sensible precautions. For example, supervisors may waive the requirement for a doctor’s note before returning to work. We are doing this to reduce the non-emergent workload for medical facilities.
Q: What are our casinos doing?
A: Leadership is putting strategies in place to both sanitize the facilities more thoroughly and protect staff and clients by encouraging team members who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home from work based on current medical recommendations. Leadership will be flexible about employee leave to take care of the health of our community.
Q: Will our health clinic close if it gets worse?
A: Staff at the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic have been involved in planning and are putting precautions in place to make sure that staff stays healthy, and the clinic remains operational. As you enter the clinic, a staff member will ask you to sanitize your hands. If you show any signs of a cough or upper respiratory infection, you may be provided a mask and asked to wear it to contain your cough. Another new procedure is phone triaging. This means that patients who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked a series of questions to determine if it is likely they have contracted the disease. Patients with mild symptoms will be advised to isolate, to protect them from contracting the illness if they do not have it, and to prevent them from spreading the illness if they are ill with COVID-19. Patients with moderate symptoms may be asked to come in and call when they arrive. At that point staff will **
Q: Why do emergency personnel need masks if they don’t work?
A: Masks will not stop you from contracting COVID-19 since they do not cover your eyes and do not filter out viruses. However, if you are already sick, a mask can limit the distance that droplets travel when you cough or sneeze. Medical professionals ask patients exhibiting symptoms to wear a mask.
First responders and emergency personnel will wear full personal protective equipment if seeing a client suspected of or infected with COVID-19. They wear both masks and goggles to protect the eyes, nose, and mouth. They may also wear disposable gowns and foot covers that can be disposed of in a medically safe manner to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
Q: COVID-19 isn’t the flu, why should I get a flu shot?
A: Although the seasonal flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19, it can reduce your risk of getting the flu. Coming down with any illness can increase your risk of catching a second illness, which is why we recommend people get a seasonal flu vaccine if they have not already.
Q: What is the incubation period?
A: This virus is new; we are learning more about it every day. The current medical recommendation is that if you show symptoms to isolate yourself. Encourage family members to stay six feet away to reduce the transmission of the disease. Do not return to work or school for seven days or 72 hours after all symptoms have resolved, whichever is longer.
Q: How can I talk to my kids about COVID-19 when I am scared that it won’t be all right?
A: Viruses have been around for all of human history. We can work to limit our exposure and contain it. COVID-19 doesn’t appear to have the high fatality rates of viruses like Ebola or Hemorrhagic virus. Most healthy people have mild symptoms, and their immune system deals with the virus. We can take care of ourselves and the people around us, especially elders and those with compromised immune systems, by letting people know if we are sick and staying away from others who are sick. We care about one another, and even though this is a scary time, we’ll get through it together.
“It’s so widespread, but the societal norm is that it’s not accepted as a disease,” said Tulalip Problem Gambling Counselor, Robin Johnson. “A lot of people who come and see us will say that they feel like they don’t have a real problem, so this is raising awareness about the fact that problem gambling is a disease and also of the detriments that it causes in real life. There is help. You are not alone.”
The Tulalip Tribes Family Services Problem Gambling Program invites you and yours to a special soiree on the evening of March 7th. A popular community event, and highly anticipated within the recovery circle, the annual Problem Gambling Awareness Gathering promotes healing, education and awareness about an addiction that nationally affects approximately six million individuals and their families each year, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.
“In most Indigenous communities there’s higher risk of acquiring a gambling disorder,” explained Problem Gambling Coordinator, Sarah Sense-Wilson. “That’s because of co-occurring disorders, mental health, addiction, proximity to gambling establishments and trauma issues. Those things all factor into why Indigenous populations tend to have vulnerability for a gambling disorder.”
For half a decade, the Tulalip Problem Gambling program has actively taken part in a countrywide initiative, Problem Gambling Awareness Month, by hosting local events and providing support to those in need each March. The campaign originally began over fifteen years ago in response to the amount of sports betting surrounding the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament. Since Tulalip’s involvement in the awareness month, recovering gambling addicts who live at Tulalip, or in nearby cities, have found a sense of community and people who they can relate to and confide in during their journey to recovery.
“The theme for this year’s Problem Gambling Awareness month is ‘Seeds of Hope Through Recovery.’ That comes from the problem gambling recovery community, they’re the ones who conceptualized the theme,” Sarah said. “It impacts everybody in the community at some level, especially in our tribal communities, because we’re so small and tight knit. When I first started here, there was a real void in any collective effort to promote health and wellness around this issue of problem gambling, throughout the region not just at Tulalip. And really, there are no collective efforts or campaigns in Indian country to spotlight this as illness or disease.”
As a people, Native Americans are at the highest risk of developing a gambling habit. A 2019 study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol and Related Conditions showed that 2.3% of the entire Indigenous population are currently battling the gambling addiction, one of the highest percentages in the nation. Recognizing that this is an issue affecting our tribal people, several Northwest tribes are addressing problem gambling by developing programs to help their people from within the community. Many of those nations, whose programs are still in the infancy stage, often send representatives to participate in events at Tulalip to get a better understanding of how the tribal people are interacting with the program.
Sarah explains, “Our program is a national model program because of the comprehensive services we provide and the expansive work that we’ve created here developing not just treatment, but also prevention, education, community outreach, all of those aspects. Usually, you don’t see that continuum of support services in any other addiction field program. This is also a great opportunity for cross-cultural understanding because we serve non-Natives too. In fact, our services are free and we work with everybody.”
The 5th Annual Problem Gambling Awareness Community Gathering takes place Saturday March 7, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Hibulb Cultural Center. Medicine will be offered all evening in the form of laughter provided by comedienne Adrianne Chalepah, traditional drum circle led by Terrance Sabbas and family, personal testimonials from recovering gambling addicts, as well as soothing tunes from Native violinist, Swil Kanim, who also doubles as the event’s Master of Ceremony.
“We’re trying to keep the same formula, bringing healing through comedic relief and raising awareness, trying to destigmatize the illness so that people are more open to receiving help or seeking services. We want people to understand that this is a disease, a disorder just like diabetes, high blood pressure, there’s no shame in it. We just want to see people get well and live healthy. It really does take a community to make it happen and that’s our goal. These events are not just about calling attention and centering on those in recovery; it’s also about reaching those who are still suffering.”
For more information, please contact the Problem Gambling program at (360) 716-4304.
At the start of 2017, the Tulalip Tribes and the Tulalip Justice Department introduced a new system to address the drug epidemic that was overtaking the entire nation at the time and claiming many lives of Indigenous people all across Native America. For a point of reference, that year over 70,000 deaths resulted from heroin, fentanyl or opioid overdose in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The number of overdose related deaths did decrease, however, dropping to a recorded 67,000 deaths in 2018. Which is still alarmingly high.
In an effort to help guide those wishing to get clean and escape the battle of addiction, as well as set them on the road to recovery, the Tribe took a chance by tailoring the standard state drug court to the needs of their Tribal people when developing the Healing to Wellness Court. This new approach originally drew skepticism from the community, perhaps due to failed drug court experiences in the past. But fast forward three years and the program has two prominent graduates who are actively inspiring from within the tribal society, and over twenty participants who have anywhere from a week to hundreds of days free from the grip of their addictions, as the program takes about 18-24 months to complete depending on the individual’s personal journey.
The wellness court has often been attributed by many of its participants as a ‘lifesaver’. Dozens have shared about the healing they receive during local gatherings like the monthly Wellbriety celebration dinners sponsored the Tulalip Problem Gambling program, or at weekly meetings, cultural events and during ‘give back’ hours while working at the smokehouse or with the Tribal elders. Most importantly, wellness court creates a community-like environment amongst its participants, and in many ways a support system where the people hold each other accountable and offer encouragement and support while working on their own sobriety.
Although their focus is the people of Tulalip, word about the work the wellness court is conducting has spread nationwide. On the afternoon of February 25, an official from the National Drug Court Institute, Karen Cowgill, flew across the country to hand-deliver a plaque recognizing the wellness court for their effective system.
“The award we received today was the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Mentor Court,” stated Interim Wellness Court Program Manager, Ashley Utz-Cook. “We were awarded to be a part of the Mentor Court Network, which means under the NADCP they’ve deemed us as one of the best of the best. So far, we are one of two tribal courts in the network and I believe there are nine other courts in the network.”
As an added bonus, Karen witnessed firsthand the inner-workings of wellness court. Such as how the judge interacts with the participants; how those who are in compliance are recognized for their accomplishments and challenged to continue striving forward. And those who aren’t in compliance are still offered encouragement in addition to a stern talking-to and the appropriate sanctions.
“I came out today because the Healing to Wellness Court applied to become a mentor court,” said Karen. “For the next two years, when we have courts that are learning how to be a tribal drug court, we can send them here and they can observe the judge and meet the team and talk to them and actually see what this all about. This [system] is really going to be an example across the United States for tribal courts to see how to do the job. It’s a different way of doing drug court; we can help get people back on track and make sure they succeed in the long run.”
The wellness court has done a great job of turning the perception of their system around, so much so that drug court teams will be flying in from all around the nation to see the healing aspect of drug court take place in real life.
“It feels awesome,” expressed Ashley after her team received the award. “It was a lot of work put in by every single team member, as well as the people before us and of course the participants. It feels great to see everything we do every day, the daily operations, recognized on such a high scale. We appreciate everyone’s hard work from the staff to the participants.”
Before concluding wellness court and the award celebration, the court team decided to pay it forward by extending love and recognition to a Tribal member who dedicated her life to assisting recovering addicts. Helen Gobin-Henson was gifted with a certificate of appreciation for the support and guidance she offers to the local recovery community.
“This means so much to me because this is my calling,” Helen said with tears running down her cheek. “I’ve been doing this work for about thirty years, helping my people get into treatment and doing whatever I can. I sung for all the funerals for over fifty years and it really hits me hard when we lose our young ones, even our old ones, to this addiction, to this disease. I hope that I can be a blessing to my people and show them that recovery works if you work it.”
For additional details about the Healing to Wellness Court, please contact (360) 716-4773.
“Each of these plants, they all have different purposes,” said Tulalip tribal member Shane McLean. “The sage is good for individual work, for personal prayers, and the cedar is good for clearing out bad energy. Understanding the medicine that these plants carry, and building that connection with those plants is important work. All of these medicines have an everyday use and now I have a deeper relationship with these plants and the healing that they can bring.”
For hundreds upon hundreds of years, the Salish tribes of the Northwest have thrived off of the land’s natural resources, always sincerely repaying Mother Earth for her generosity by nurturing and protecting those resources and ensuring they remain accessible to their people for years to come. In fact, many Native communities base their decisions of today by how it will affect their tribe seven generations in the future. Several of the teachings we learn and practice today are to preserve the Indigenous way of life, so our children’s children can experience the essence of the culture in its entirety and understand how everything is connected.
Aside from fishing, hunting and partaking in cultural ceremonies, a large piece to the Coastal Native identity is the gathering aspect. Many Natives have perfectly encapsulated the feeling of that spiritual work through a number of creative mediums. The sensation of balance that occurs when you know you are serving your life’s purpose, i.e. the prayer before the harvest, the songs and stories that occur when filling your basket with various foliage, and the laughter, energy and good intentions you set while collecting those plants from the natural world, knowing your efforts will be of service to, and appreciated by, a member of your community.
In today’s world, however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to learn, feel and share that cultural experience of gathering. Due to the conveniences of supermarkets and pharmacies, it may seem easier to purchase cold medicine than it is delve into the science of ethnobotany when feeling ill.
“It was an eye-opening experience, for sure,” expressed Tulalip member Bradley Althoff. “Now that I’ve come to the realization that these plants are all around me, all of these trees are literally surrounding my house, I’m definitely seeing the world a little differently now. I want to learn more so I can incorporate more of these traditional medicines into my life.”
A delightful outdoorsy aroma permeated the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) on the evening of February 10. Approximately fifty Tulalip tribal members showed up for some fun, hands-on learning during this year’s first Native Plants class led by the HCC and Natural History Preserve’s Rediscovery program.
“The Rediscovery program has been providing first aid kits for a few years now, for participants who go and travel on Canoe Journey,” explained the Native Plants Instructor, Virginia Jones. “In some of these classes we’ll focus on building those kits to give people more exposure to Native plants so they can really get an understanding of how they work and begin to incorporate them into their lives. Hopefully they’ll be able to replace some of the other items that they typically buy, and find more natural methods to provide some healing. Some of that healing happens by just coming and getting your hands on the plants and spending a little time with them, learning what you can do with them and then going home to share that knowledge with your family.”
Multiple harvesting stations were setup throughout a HCC classroom and were designated by the type of plant that was being extracted including cedar, fir and lavender. The harvesters filled large bowls with leaves, flowers and nettles and exported them across the room where they were carefully measured and mixed into Ziploc baggies labeled ‘smudge blend’. In addition to the sacred potpourri, the students also worked on creating a concoction to cure headaches and provide relief from sinus pressure with oils extracted from assorted plants such as lavender, rosemary, peppermint and birch.
“I’m just thankful that I can help those people going out on the water this summer for Canoe Journey,” stated Shane. “Working with the different plants, I know a little more about the medicine they contain and I know that it will be helpful for the people at Journey. The cedar alone has many, many functions that are beneficial to us as a people.”
For three hours, the group worked together in high spirits, knowing their energy and thoughts would be forever intertwined with the work they were conducting, all while gaining new skills and first-hand knowledge about local trees, flowers, shrubbery, and herbs, as well as the history of the plants indigenous to the Sduhubš territory. Whether by burning, extracting or consuming, natural plants like cedar, stinging nettles, sage, Nootka Rose, horsetail, blue camas, devil’s club and huckleberries, have long served as traditional remedies for ailments like the common cold, as well as provided relief from inflammation and numerous diseases for coastal Natives since time immemorial.
“It feels good to see the people show up and want to do the work,” Virginia said. “It’s nice to see people from each family come together and pick up different parts of this knowledge. Some people will be drawn to learn from the cedar, others will be drawn to work with the fir. Whatever they’re drawn to, they’re picking up what they want to learn from the class, and collectively everyone has different knowledge that they walk away with. As a community, all of that knowledge together is powerful. One of the main teachings we want to emphasize this year is the importance of reciprocity within a tribal community. Although they come to spend a little bit of their time with us, a lot of the work they do is going to go a long way. And in turn, that work spreads through other communities while on Journey because they all receive those gifts [at each landing].”
After all their hard work, each harvester took home one smudge blend and one sinus and headache oil, in addition to their newly acquired knowledge of Native plants. The Rediscovery program plans on hosting at least one Native Plants class per month leading up to this year’s Tribal Canoe Journey: Paddle to Snuneymuxw 2020. For more information, please contact the Rediscovery program at (360) 716-2634.
On the evening of December 23, Tulalip community member and Muckleshoot tribal member, Brittany Nelson-Jones, urgently sent out a message to her friends and family via her Facebook account.
“TULALIP-MARYSVILLE FAMILY/FRIENDS: You always read these things and never expect it to happen to you,” her post read. “I was last minute shopping for my family for Christmas. I went to Ross in Marysville then the Tulalip Walmart right after. Some guy was legit following my sister, my daughter and I in each store and it made me super uncomfortable. He had one item and was standing too close to us at Ross, he even held onto our cart and was trying to ask questions about my daughter. And then he was following us around Walmart. He was looking for us when we were checking out. Very scary! All I know is I wasn’t letting my baby go and I was just trying to hurry up and get us home safe. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE BE CAREFUL AND ALWAYS STAY ALERT!”
Within minutes the social media warning was shared over a dozen times and several people added comments, recounting similar experiences at businesses throughout the area, while others suggested contacting the authorities or investing in pepper spray.
“My sister is 16, my daughter was 7 months at the time of this incident and I’m 25,” explained Brittany. “Ross’ carts have these long blue poles on the side, he grabbed that pole and he started asking about my daughter. I was uncomfortable and my sister was too, we got a weird vibe like something wasn’t right. So we hurried out of Ross as fast as we could. That’s when things got very sketchy.
“We got to Walmart and he followed us there too. That same guy, watching us. As we were in line paying, I saw him towards the front of the store lurking down every cashier aisle looking for us. I alerted my sister to keep her eyes open. He noticed that I caught him looking for us and tried to play it off. He then just stared at us from behind. After we paid for our stuff, we walked as fast as we could to my car and got out of there. That situation was very scary. When I warned everyone and told my family they asked why I didn’t tell an employee at Ross or Walmart. But when you’re in the moment, you don’t think about that, you don’t think of anything but your safety.”
Thankfully, due to their attentiveness, the young ladies returned home safely that night. Too many times communities nationwide dismiss these instances as coincidence or pay little mind to accounts like Brittany’s. That is, until it’s too late and someone turns up missing. For the betterment of the Indigenous community as a whole, it’s important that we learn exactly what to do in those terrifying moments because, quite simply put, Native Americans are being targeted.
The results of a study conducted by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) indicated that approximately 40% of women forced into sex trafficking identified as Native American. Another shocking statistic is that 48.8% of all Indigenous women experienced some form of stalking in their lifetime, per the National Institute of Justice.
The Tulalip Legacy of Healing and Child Advocacy Center are taking part in a national campaign to raise awareness for the countless victims and survivors by educating the community with prevention methods. They are teaching people how to recognize key indicators one might display if they are currently being trafficked or stalked.
“January is the month where we focus our efforts on educating our people about the real dangers of stalking and human trafficking,” said Sydney Gilbert, Forensic Interview Specialist at the Tulalip Child Advocacy Center. “We often unintentionally minimize it by saying things like, ‘I Facebook stalked you.’ Which can be harmless if you have consensual social media friends, not fully understanding that it is a very dangerous and chargeable offense and crime.
“Human Trafficking Prevention Month is more aligned with bringing awareness to the prevalence of the issue because a lot of times when we think of human trafficking, we think of international sex rings,” Sydney continued. “There are all kinds of human trafficking, it’s not just sex work, sometimes it’s labor trafficking as well. Human trafficking prevention means equipping people with skills on how to recognize someone who is already a victim of human trafficking and how you can report that and help them get out of the life. We want to raise awareness on the red flags to look for if you think someone is being victimized and how to make a report.”
It’s important to note that in certain instances, stalking can lead to human trafficking, but that is not always the case. Sydney explained that stalking is often an extension of domestic violence and usually occurs between estranged partners. A stalker will use extreme measures while trying to stir-up a reaction, such as sending multiple threatening calls, texts, direct messages and e-mails, as well as tracking your movements by means of your cell phone’s GPS or driving by your place of work or residence. Sydney advises to never come into contact with a stalker or respond to their requests because it can lead to a more hostile situation.
“If you feel like you’re being stalked, the first thing I would suggest is to contact the law enforcement and let them know, because it can turn dangerous fast,” Sydney stated. “Also, document everything. Save all the text messages, phone calls, incidents when that person is somewhere they shouldn’t be. If you are in a public space and feel like someone is suspicious and you’re worried about your child or yourself, notify security to make sure you get to your vehicle safe. And as much as you want to be there to protect your kid 24/7, the best thing you can do is empower them to use their voice when they’re not right by your side. Let them know they don’t have to go anywhere with a stranger and to yell out something like, ‘get away from me, you’re not my mom or my dad’.”
With the proximity to Interstate 5, one of the largest trafficking corridors in the country that extends from Canada to Mexico, the locals of Tulalip and Marysville should stay on alert when out and about. Studies show that traffickers prey on tribal populations due to certain jurisdictional complexities that often prevents them from prosecution.
“We know that vulnerable communities tend to be targets of human trafficking or stalking,” expressed Sydney. “Human trafficking uses force, fraud or coercion to get someone roped in. If you feel someone is forcing you or someone you know to do something you don’t want to do, or is saying, ‘if you come with me and do this, I’ll give you a place to stay tonight so you’re not outside” – report it. It’s similar to reporting child abuse; you don’t have to have hard evidence to make a report. That’s someone else’s job, they’ll look into it. You just have to provide as much detailed information as possible.
“Other signs to look out for would be if they’re not able to come and go as they please, and if they show any physical signs, including scarring, branding or certain tattoos.
“And as it relates to MMIW, with the low reportings that we have, it is more likely that Native women have a proportionately larger amount of victims than other communities.”
The Legacy of Healing urges you to report any immediate human trafficking suspicions to the local authorities as well as to the National Human Trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888. For further details and guidance on these particular issues, please contact the Legacy of Healing at (360) 716-4100.
“I really hope my story helps someone and alerts everyone to always pay attention to your surroundings,” Brittany said. “It’s scary how people around our area are stalking and contributing to trafficking. I truly hope our people will keep their eyes open and always stay cautious.”
Many people continue to find it frightening when they realize just how widespread sexual abuse and violence is in our society. What was long a taboo subject and could only be discussed in whispers is now spoken aloud at rallies and public gatherings, and is turned to the loudest possible volume on social media.
According to Time Magazine, the groundbreaking anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movements #MeToo of 2017 and 2018’s Time’s Up upended the public conversation about women’s issues around the world, and elevated the global consciousness surrounding the obstacles women encounter in their daily lives, both personal and professional. The success of these two social movements continues to be the liberation of public discourse to include subjects and stories that were for far too long kept quiet.
Yet, as the terms sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual violence have permeated into national dialogue and every day conversations, there continues to be a veil of ignorance and denial to the fact that men and boys are victims as well. Often men are the neglected victims of all forms of sexual violence, including being abused as children.
Organized by Tulalip Tribes Children’s Advocacy Center and Northwest Indian Health Board, the Tulalip community was invited to a January 13th training hosted by Lenny Hayes to offer insight while shedding light on such a dark topic. The training’s title: A silent epidemic – sexual violence against men and boys.
Lenny, a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in northeastern South Dakota, is a therapy practitioner with extensive training in mental and chemical health issues that impact the Two-Spirit and Native community. He has travelled nationally and locally presenting on issues that include historical and intergenerational trauma, violence of all forms, child welfare issues, and the rarely discussed topic that is the impact of sexual violence on men and boys.
“There is a general misconception that men are immune from sexual violence, owing to gender stereotypes of women as delicate and therefore victims, while men are either the powerful protector or perpetrators of violence,” explained Lenny during the one-of-a-kind training seminar. “Traditional masculinity is inconsistent with the position of victimhood, leading many to believe a man simply cannot be a victim of sexual abuse.
“A boy or man sexually abused by a woman is often greeted by disbelief, denial, or trivializing. Society tells us that if any part of his experience felt good, then he was not abused. Or if he did not enjoy it, then he must be gay. While a boy or man sexually abused by another male is even more reluctant to come forward because of the stigma and extreme shame faced, both internally and externally, by admitting to being victimized.”
A new study funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and published in May 2016 looked at the extent and impact of sexual and intimate partner violence against Native American victims. The study clearly shows that Native American men and boys suffer violence at alarmingly high rates.
According to the NIJ study, more than 1.4 million Native American men have experienced violence in their lifetime. This includes:
More than 1 in 4 (27.5%) who have experienced sexual violence
Roughly 2 in 5 (43.2%) who have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner
About 1 in 5 (18.6%) who have experienced stalking, and
Nearly 3 in 4 (73%) who have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner
These are startling and heartbreaking statistics that were reviewed and discussed in great detail during the training. Illustrating the depth and scope of this rampant issue, especially in Native communities and on reservations, the PBS documentary Predator on the Reservation was shown. The film details a Frontline and Wall Street Journal investigation into the decades-long failure to stop an Indian Health Service (IHS) doctor accused of sexually abusing Native boys for years, and examines how he moved from reservation to reservation despite warnings.
Training participants, many of whom were professional advocates and social workers employed by community engagement entities throughout Snohomish County, were offered plenty of time to properly process and ask questions for further understanding about the heavy subject matter.
“You all took a huge first step just by being here today and being open to education about sexual violence against men and boys, the many mental health issues that impact them thereafter, and how healing is possible by breaking the silence,” offered Lenny at the conclusion of the training. “I hope that when you all leave here you remember that failure to address the suffering of male victims has profound consequences for the survivor, his family and his community. By breaking the silence and creating safe spaces for these stories to be told, healing can begin.”
Following the training, Tulalip tribal member and Community Health employee Rocio Hatch offered her thoughts. “In this community we don’t really talk about sexual abuse at all, let alone abuse towards men and boys,” she shared. “I was very uneducated in this topic and am just thankful to have participated here today. I’m excited to bring this knowledge back to my coworkers and, hopefully, start to have these necessary conversations and expand our outreach.”
Megan Boyer, lead family advocate for Legacy of Healing, added, “There’s an absolute need of education around the victimization of men and boys. It’s very prevalent, and in my job I’ve become aware of just how big an issue this is, but nobody talks about it. We all have a responsibility to let our boys and men know we believe them, it’s not their fault, and we appreciate them for having the strength to tell their story.”
Sexual violence is just as much a men’s issue as it is women’s, but the current structure for speaking about violence in any form often comes at the exclusion of men as victims. This constrained dialogue limits the opportunity for survivors to tell their stories and be included as critical resources and advocates. Fully recognizing male victims will not only bring much needed support and assistance, but create safe spaces for men to address the lifelong impacts of sexual violence as a whole, which benefits everyone.
Offered resources for further understanding:
To view the PBS film Predator on the Reservation documenting how an IHS doctor preyed on Native boys for decades, please visit:
“My name is Natosha Gobin. I’m coming up on three-and-a-half years of my second round of sobriety,” shared the Tulalip tribal member to approximately one hundred community members. “When I was 21, I quit drinking right after my 21st birthday and I was sober for eight years. I’ve been teaching our language for almost twenty years now and it took a lot for me to realize, this second time around, the disservice I was doing to my job by drinking. The more we learn and reconnect with our ancestors and reconnect with our way of life, the more we realize that addiction is not our way. I have to apologize to my nieces and my children for normalizing my addiction. We have normalized addiction within our communities. It’s time for us to have more gatherings like this and say, this is not our way.”
Many happy tears were shed on the night of January 9th as people from all over Snohomish County gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center. The celebration of sobriety, or wellbriety, has occurred every so often amongst the local recovery community at Tulalip for years. The gatherings took place namely at the Tulalip Resort Casino ballrooms and the Tulalip Dining Hall, and were hosted by passionate recovering addict and Tulalip tribal member, Helen Gobin-Henson. However, the wellbriety celebration is looking to become a staple event in 2020 as the Tulalip Problem Gambling program has adopted the wellbriety concept and will be hosting a celebratory dinner once a month throughout the year.
“In the spirit of unity to support health and wellness, we want to create a safe space for the community to gather and support each other in recovery. Whether you have one day or fifty years, we want to recognize your efforts in maintaining your sobriety,” said Robin Johnson, Substance Use Disorder Professional and Problem Gambling Counselor, who is approaching twenty years of sobriety herself.
Problem Gambling enlisted Native American Grammy Award Winner, Star Nayea, to host the event, who shared that she is celebrating her sobriety of seventeen years. The program also looked for guidance from Helen Gobin-Henson who was in attendance to share her story and celebrate with the community.
“There’s a lot of heart break when you’re recovering,” Helen tearfully admitted. “Keep fighting. Recovery works if you work it. I’m thankful for everyone, we praise you for coming together to honor your recovery. Stay safe and continue to walk with pride on the red road to recovery.”
Last year, the Problem Gambling program hosted a thirty-two-hour class at Tulalip called Recovery Coach Training. This course taught local recovering addicts, who were looking to help others, the essential tools on how to be supportive and help fellow addicts stay the course of sobriety. Six of those students who became certified recovery coaches were at the wellbriety dinner, cheering on their comrades in recovery, including Denise, a compulsive gambler who was caught embezzling money from her company in order to fuel her addiction.
“One of the things I learned about recovery coaching is you have to meet the person where they are,” Denise explained. “If you say you’re in recovery, you’re in recovery. It doesn’t matter how much time you have; a year, a day or a minute. Being a part of the recovery coach community and being a part of the solution for somebody else is something I embrace. If you are in recovery and made the decision that you want to pass on that message of hope, recovery coaching is the way. Let me walk with you and tell you what I’ve done, what worked for me and what didn’t. Let’s take a look at who you are today, and what you need to wake up in the morning and realize you’re going to be okay.”
One by one, community members stepped up to the open-microphone to share their personal story of sobriety. Some celebrating decades, some celebrating days – all equally met with rounds of applause that echoed throughout the cultural center halls.
“I graduated from Drug Wellness Court. I was the very first one,” said Verle Smith. “I did have a minor relapse of sorts after I graduated, but I got the opportunity to step up to the plate and figure out what my next addiction was, and it was gambling. I’m thankful for Robin, Problem Gambling and Family Services for leading me back to the red road of recovery because on the 20th I will have one year and I’m extremely proud of that.”
“The main reason I came tonight was to celebrate my recovery – nine months!” said Tulalip tribal member Winona Keeline. “This is the first time I’ve been in recovery and I just wanted to see the community come together and celebrate their journey. What stood out to me the most was how many of our youth were here and seeing that we are capable of coming together to celebrate life in a good way and show the youth a new way for our people to live.”
The Tulalip Youth Council offered the group a song and president, Kaiser Moses, followed up with some strong words to encourage people along their path of recovery.
“Thank you for showing each other that support for sobriety and taking back control of your lives and protecting your time,” Kaiser expressed. “One thing that I still carry with me that my mom always told me when I was little is that alcohol and other substances are like snakes. She told me a story Raymond Moses used to tell. There was once a guy who was walking up the mountain and it was really cold. There was a snake that was walking alongside him. The snake kept asking, ‘can you pick me up for warmth, it’s cold,’ and the guy kept refusing. But the snake was persistent and the guy eventually picked up the snake – and it bit him. The guy asked ‘why did you bite me?’ and the snake replied, ‘you knew I was a snake when you picked me up’. So, the moral is don’t pick up the snake or you will get bitten.”
A lot of knowledge, encouragement, pride and laughter was shared throughout the night. Wrapping up the two-hour event was a round of karaoke and a sobriety countdown. Starting at fifty, the community counted backwards to present day, celebrating the amount of time clean each person attainted.
“Tonight filled my heart,” Robin said. “The participants in our program worked hard, coming to group sessions every day and giving their all to their recovery, and it’s not acknowledged or celebrated nearly enough. They don’t know a lot of those people on the same path to recovery. This was a great opportunity for them to meet and share with each other. I wanted to show the community how hard our people are working to stay sober and allow them the opportunity to bring that education and knowledge back to the community, to heal the people from within.”
The Problem Gambling program is gearing up for a big year, beginning by hosting two upcoming Recovery Coach Trainings; one on January 18 and 19, the other on January 25 and 26. Both classes are held between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the Tulalip Administration building. For further details, please contact Problem Gambling at (360) 716-4302.